Giffords still hopeful for stronger gun control

Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) said Wednesday that stronger gun control restrictions are within reach, despite repeated failures to push reforms through Congress in the three years since she was nearly killed in a mass shooting in Tucson, Ariz.

“We’re not daunted,” Giffords writes in a New York Times op-ed published on the third anniversary of the shooting spree that claimed the lives of six people and forced her exit from Congress.

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“We know that the gun lobby, which makes money by preventing sensible change, relies on dramatic disappointments to wound us, reduce our power, push us back on our heels,” Giffords writes.

The Tucson shooting and subsequent 2012 massacre at Newtown, Conn.’s Sandy Hook Elementary School spawned a flurry of bills aimed at strengthening federal gun control regulations.

But bills seeking to expand background checks for firearm purchases and impose bans on assault weapons and large capacity ammunition magazines fell short of passage, among a host of other measures.

Even some of the most staunch supporters of the stronger gun controls told The Hill late last year that the issue is a nonstarter in the current political landscape.

But Giffords, who co-founded the group Americans for Responsible Solutions following her shooting, argues that the push is still alive.

“We will fight for every inch, because that means saving lives,” she writes. “I’ve seen grit overcome paralysis. My resolution today is that Congress achieve the same.”

She is urging Congress to pass legislation to increase penalties for gun trafficking, make it illegal for stalkers and domestic abusers to buy guns and extend mental health resources into schools and communities.

Giffords is also calling for incentives for states to help shore up the porous National Instant Background Check System.